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Of Mailing Lists and Blogs

By Richard F.X. O’Connor

One tip for a winning book proposal would be: Don’t tell what you are going to do, but rather what you have done.

I can’t count the number of times, as an acquiring editor, a proposal would say something like this: "And the author intends to set up a Web site that will cover the following points, blah, blah, blah…."

Wrong! What that tells the agent or editor reading the proposal is that the writer will put in the energy and time to create a Web site after the publisher issues a contract. It doesn’t work that way. The editor wants to click onto your Web site to see how you write, how many hits the site has had, how the content of the book is relevant to those viewing the site, what links there are, and what is for sale on the site.

In short, there ain’t no shortcuts.

More importantly, Web pages and Web logs (blogs) are a selling point. The New York Times ran an article on December 15 about the emerging value to writers of blogging.

In essence, the article said of an author who got a contract that, "The blog showed publishers she was committed to the subject matter and already had an audience." (The writer had been blogging for two years by the time her book was picked up.)

I must admit some surprise that the Times story cited not only nonfiction works by bloggers who were subsequently published, which I would have expected, but also works of fiction. Evidently, editors liked the writing style of some fiction authors that they could examine through the blog.

All of this falls under the heading of a writer’s "platform," which is publisher jargon to show what the writer can do to promote his/her book.

And speaking of tips, last month you used the single-most valuable mail order tool a writer has to sell books. Your Christmas card list.

Actually, that list combined with your Rolodex will sell more books—once—that any mail order list you can rent. It’s a fact.

The average mail order list will yield a return of .05 percent (one half of one percent). No kidding; ask Ed McMahon. But your personal mailing list will average a 7.5 percent response. As I said, once. Aunt Edna tends to get peeved if you hit her up twice for the same product (book).

So keep your mailing list up to date and keep on blogging.

Richard F X. O'Connor is the published author of seven books including the best selling "How To Make Your Man More Sensitive" (E.P. Dutton/ Fawcett) and "Ident-A-Kid" (S&S). His self-published work is "How to Market You and Your Book."



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